Building Houses, Making Homes

Building Houses, Making Homes
9 years ago
Building Houses, Making Homes
Amy congratulating the new homeowners of a Habitat for Humanity build post-Katrina in New Orleans, LA.
In 2009, I arrived at a Habitat for Humanity build in New Orleans three and a half years after Katrina. It was already as humid as I could remember and the sun was only just above the horizon. As we walked down Law Street, it seemed like we’d been transported to a war-torn neighborhood: empty streets, vacant, dilapidated houses marked with spray paint and boarded windows, piles of debris, and the coldness of a chain link fence separating nothing from nothing.
Our project sat at the end of the dead end street. As we neared the lot, I could see an empty space where a house once sat. All that existed now were new concrete footings and a slab — the beginnings of a home. It resembled a tiny green bud of a plant that you see emerging from the ground in early spring, before any other growth dares to appear. It looked a bit out of place, in a beautiful, hopeful sort of way.
That was our foundation, our responsibility, and our home for the next 5 days. It was Monday, and by Friday at 3 pm, a young woman and her daughters would be standing on their new front porch with the keys to their new home in hand. It was time to get to work.
My team and I worked for a week raising walls, nailing on siding, cutting insulation, laying flooring, installing kitchen cabinets (and praying that the plumbers would finish their work before we needed to hang the shower curtain).
I soon found myself standing on the street with a group of soggy volunteers. We were staring at a house we just built, where 5 days ago, there was nothing. But to us it was more than just building a house.
After years of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and working as an advocate for safe, affordable housing, I am honored to join Procter & Gamble and Habitat for Humanity to celebrate their 10-year anniversary of changing people’s lives. Empowering individuals and families by providing a stable foundation from which to build a better future is one of my deepest passions. I am committed to making a house a home and this is what the 10-year anniversary celebration is all about. And as we know, home is where life happens.
Live, give, and love well,
Amy Matthews